"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

June 7, 2017


I've always considered myself to be a decent housekeeper. My house normally isn't spotless with every single thing in it's place, but it generally is clean enough where I wouldn't be embarrassed should someone stop by unexpectedly. I like to think that it feels comfortable and homey, where someone would feel as if they could come in and kick off their shoes and make themselves at home. Perhaps not perfect, but clean and comfortable!

During the month of April, Jon and I helped out quite a bit with his dad so were gone several nights, while Stan was in the hospital after partial hip replacement surgery as well as afterwards when he got back to the memory care unit; which meant that we slept as much as we could during the day. After Jon's dad passed away, Jon missed work for a week due to sickness. Then I had been gone from home during the days babysitting from time to time. Following that, Jon had to go out of town for a conference and to take some classes for his job, and I went with him. When we got back home, it was Memorial weekend.

Needless to say, during all those weeks my house had been neglected. In my spare time, I had done laundry and had picked up a little, but overall I hadn't had time to clean very well. Finally, I had a day at home while Jon was at work, so I spent several hours cleaning. Afterwards it felt really good to have a clean home once again! Granted, afterwards I wouldn't have wanted anyone to do a white glove test, but to me it felt really clean and I was quite happy with the results; as long as you didn't look in closets or our storage room or the garage or inside dresser drawers or in Jon's office......

My aunt, Betty, is without a doubt one of the most meticulous housekeepers I've ever known. Ever since I can remember, her house has always been spic and span. Even when she had four kids at home, her house was spotless. I don't know how she did it! I guarantee that there is never any dust in her home, nor is there anything out of place. She is amazing!

Betty Kay, who is the wife of one of my cousins, is also a very meticulous housecleaner. A couple years ago I was having lunch with her and her two daughters and they were saying what a clean freak their mom was. Not only is everything inside her home always spotless, she evens goes so far as to dust and clean the back deck on her home. They are both married and admitted that neither of them do nearly as well at cleaning as their mom does.

On the other hand, after Daddy passed away and the family home and property was deeded over to my sisters and I, it had been years since we had been inside the house so we contacted the renters to ask if we could stop by. This wasn't a surprise visit; we had asked beforehand and had set up a time. We were somewhat taken aback! For one thing, the house looked a whole lot smaller than we remembered from growing up there. But we were shocked at how much "stuff" the renters had piled inside the house. When we walked into the living room there were stacks and piles of boxes everywhere, from floor to ceiling. There was hardly room to walk through. Perhaps they were hoarders because they also had a car in the yard, that no longer ran and was filled full of clothes and who knows what. It was crazy! When we left, we were puzzled at where they would sit to relax. It was a family of four who lived in the house. When they moved out, rain had leaked through one of the living room windows and there had been so much much stuff piled from floor to ceiling along that wall that the renters hadn't apparently noticed. It did some damage to the wood flooring.

When I was growing up one of my uncles would work on car motors in their living room. When they rented... he'd have car motors and parts inside the house working on them. When they built a new house, he'd bring car motors and parts inside to work on them. True story! I don't know if it didn't bother my aunt, or if after a few years she gave up trying to reform my uncle. Apparently, he saw their living room as his garage. Their home always smelled of motor oil.

People have different ideas on what clean is and what they're comfortable with in their home. What is clean to me, may not be good enough for someone else. Perhaps they would walk into my home, look around, and think, "If I lived here, I'd change that.... If Loretta would only do this, things would look more orderly and less cluttered and more updated.... She needs to dust her baseboards..." On the other hand, there may be someone different who would walk in, look around, and think, "Wow! Loretta sure is a neat homemaker! Everything looks so homey and comfortable and clean." It's all about perspective! Different people have different ideas on what keeping their house in order means.

There is a story in 2 Kings 20:1-7 about King Hezekiah. He became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah went to visit him. He told the king: "This is what the Lord says, 'Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.'" Other versions say, "Set your house in order."

What does setting your house in order truly mean? It won't mean the same thing to everyone, for people are in different places in their lives and some have more work to do than others to get things set in order in preparation for the end of their life. Here are some examples:

Normally, I keep my house fairly clean and if someone should show up unexpected, or if they call and say that they are stopping by, I wouldn't really have to do anything before opening the door and letting them in. I would have no problem inviting them in and would be comfortable with them seeing my house. My shoes may be set beside my recliner or there may be some papers or magazines stacked up on the table beside me or there may be a few dirty dishes in the sink, but overall, it wouldn't bother me whatsoever for them to come inside and see my home.

But after letting my house go for those weeks, I wasn't quite as comfortable with how my home looked inside. In fact, Jon's mom called on the Saturday morning after we returned back home and asked if we minded if she stopped by and walked through our house, as she reminisced. She was missing Stan greatly, and our home holds a lot of precious memories for her. It was the last home that she and Stan lived in where he was completely healthy; it was where they lived for 35 years and raised their family; therefore, Diane has a lot of attachment to this home and the memories that were created here. That was perfectly fine and we didn't mind in the least, and she is welcome to come by at any time. But since she did call ahead of time, Jon and I hurriedly picked up what we could before she arrived so that our home wouldn't look like a compete disaster.

After Jon went back to work after Memorial weekend and I finally had a full day at home, it took longer for me to clean than it normally does. Why? Because I had been neglecting doing housework and things had gotten more piled up and dirtier than normal. But cleaning was doable and I was able to get my house back in order.

There may be times when we go along and are taking care of ourselves spiritually, then we get busy or something happens to get us distracted or we get overwhelmed with a particular situation or life in general and we find ourselves in a mess. Our relationship with God isn't as close as it once was and we realize that we've let clutter get into our life. It may seem a bit daunting at first and may take a little work and effort to get things back to how it once was and get back on the right path, but it's doable and well worth the effort. Afterwards, we will feel clean and whole again and at peace knowing that our "house" is back in order and things are where they need to be with God.

On the other hand, I doubt that my aunt or my cousin's wife ever have to worry about how their home looks should someone show up unexpectedly, because their homes are always neat and tidy and amazingly clean. I doubt that they've ever had to scurry around trying to get things put away or the messiness straightened up or hidden should someone call and ask if they could stop by.

I can perhaps see my cousin's wife feeling as if her house wasn't at its best should someone stop by without warning. Probably no one else would ever notice what she might think wasn't as clean as it needed to be, because to them the house would look wonderful; but she knows how she normally cleans and whether or not she had time to do that on that particular day, therefore, she would see things that weren't noticeable to anyone else. If she had been busy and hadn't had time to dust and sweep her deck, she may not feel comfortable inviting someone to go out there to sit. But if I were to go, I'd probably think that regardless of how it looked, it was much cleaner than my house or back porch ever is!

There are people who may look really good on the outside and everyone thinks that they always have their life together and never struggle. And perhaps they really are strong spiritually and have a solid relationship with the Lord. But everyone has to work at keeping their spiritual homes clean at all times; no matter how many years they've been a christian. Others may look at them and think that they are always spiritually meticulous and never have anything in their life out of order. But they know their own hearts and possibly something that they haven't "cleaned" recently and have let get a little dusty and haven't paid attention to lately. It may not be noticeable to others, but they know their own heart and know what needs attention and cleaned up. Perhaps it won't take nearly as much effort to get their spiritual house in order, but it needs to be tended and taken care of.

Then there are those who have neglected their spiritual lives and have allowed so much junk to get piled up that it seems hopeless of ever being able to get things cleaned. Perhaps they've began hoarding things that they have no use for, such as un-forgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, pride, discouragement, lack of self-worth, self-pity, hatred, anger, bad habits, etc. Instead of repenting and getting rid of those things as they cropped up, they held onto them and boxed them up and kept them inside their life. Over time, they keep adding more and more sin or ungodly attitudes to their life, but never seem to have the time or inclination to do personal house-keeping. Perhaps they've grown comfortable hanging onto those things, because they've been a part of their life for so long. They're unhappy and stressed and know that they need to change, but never take the time to do so.

When the renters left our family home, they left behind a whole lot of junk that we then had to deal with. I'm sure that they were angry that we asked them to move, even though we gave them plenty of notice so that they could find another place to live. It took a whole lot of time and effort for us to clean up the house and property after they left. We burned piles of stuff, hauled off trash that couldn't be burned, and had to scrub and paint and repair the house. To the renters it was just a place to live; to my sisters and me, it was home. That made a huge difference in how the house and property was treated. We respected it, because it is special to us and holds a lot of wonderful memories; to them, it was just a place to reside.

Some people see life as something just to be endured. Their attitude is we're born, we try to get through life as best as we can, then we die. They don't respect the journey, therefore, there is little enjoyment and they don't do anything to better themselves. They make messes and then make little effort to clean it up, expecting others to go behind them to pick up if they don't like it. Very little effort is made to get their house in order; and they think it is the duty of others to clean up after them. Perhaps it's anger or disillusionment that prevents them from taking care of their life and making the most of what has been given them. They always feel as if everyone is against them, that bad things always happens to them, and that God hasn't blessed them as much as He does others.

Others see life as an opportunity to love, make memories, and do continual maintenance so that the journey is as enjoyable and full as possible. They respect life and see God as the giver of life, therefore, they honor and respect what has so graciously been bestowed upon them. Even when their journey brings about struggles, hardships, or unexpected hurdles, they trust God to be with them and have an assurance that He is walking beside them and has a great love for them. Their eyes are on God, not their problems. Therefore, they respect the spiritual home that God has given them, and take joy in keeping it in order.

When Isaiah gave Hezekiah the message from God that he was going to die, so it was time to set his affairs in order, Hezekiah's response was to turn his face to the wall and pray. He reminded the Lord that, "I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you."

How many of us can honestly say those words to God? "God, remember that I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly! I have always done what pleases you!" Always!!

As Isaiah was leaving the courtyard, the Lord spoke to him and said, "Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of My people, and tell him, 'I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own honor and for the sake of my servant David."

God healed Hezekiah, and there was peace throughout the remainder of his time as king.

Just because God gave him a reprieve, did it mean that Hezekiah could do whatever he wanted and let his house become disorderly and dirty? No. God still desired for him to get his house and keep his house in order.

Just because God may give us a reprieve, or offers mercy and forgiveness, doesn't mean that we can do whatever we want in life with little regard for our spiritual home. It's His desire that we get and keep our house in order at all times, for none of us truly know when we may be called to our eternal home. It's doubtful that any of us will have a prophet come to us and tell us that we need to get our house in order because we're going to die. It's doubtful that we will receive a message from a prophet telling us that we have fifteen more years left, before we die. Therefore, it's of vital importance that we keep our house in order and are always ready to meet the Lord.

One last thought. Just because our parents had their house in order, spiritually speaking, doesn't mean our house will be in order, due to default. We can't go to heaven on our parents' good works and righteousness. We can't slip in because of their faith in God.

Scripture tells us that Hezekiah was faithful and served God single-mindedly, and did what pleased God. That's awesome!

But the next chapter tells a completely different story. Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, became king after his father's death. He was one of the most evil and wicked kings to ever reign in Jerusalem; and his reign lasted for 55 years. He did what was evil in the Lord's sight: he rebuilt the pagan shrines that his father had destroyed; he worshipped idols; he built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord; he sacrificed his own son in the fire; he practiced sorcery and divination; he murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. He was the complete opposite of his father.

God didn't bless the actions of Manasseh due to his fathers faithfulness and strong spiritual life. He dealt with Manasseh and his great sins, and doled out punishment.

It's easy to read of Manasseh's evil and wicked life and think, "I'm different! I've never done anything nearly as bad as he did!" But are you truly serving the Lord, or are you allowing sin to keep you from living a fully committed life? Maybe you're not as evil as this wicked man was; but are you single-mindedly faithful to God?

Thankfully, Manasseh's story ends in redemption! The Assyrian armies came and took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and let him away to Babylon. That was the best thing that could have happened to him, because it was life-changing! 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 says, "But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And while he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!"

When someone comes to God in sincere humility and seeks Him, regardless of their past acts or how evil or sinful they've been, God listens!! Those type of prayers move God. Never think that someone is too far gone or too deep in sin to repent and turn their life around. Sometimes it may take dire circumstances to bring about change, but it is the will of God that no one should perish but that all come to repentance. We can all get our house in order and be ready to meet God!


I know in theory that it's easier to keep a clean garage than to clean up one that is a complete mess. But in reality, when I go into the garage, it is usually to do some task. And when I'm done, I'm usually in too much of a hurry to put everything away. So, I put the tools and supplies somewhere where I hope to find them later, and put them away when I do. But the next time I find them, I have another urgent project, so don't have time to put them up then, either.

Occasionally, I do start to clean up. I know I spend hours cleaning. But sometimes, all you might see is that the floor is swept, or one small corner is a little more organized than just a random pile. I might try a general clean-up, but before I get very far, I usually reconcile myself to cleaning up that one small corner. I plan to come back again and again, cleaning up another corner till they are all clean! But I normally don't follow through.

Sometimes, we take the same approach to cleaning up our hearts. We don't think of it till we have some urgent need we pray for. We pray, and focus on God as much as we need to. And when our prayer is answered, we drop it all, and go back to our lives. Until the next need comes along. We might decide to devote ourselves once in a while, but it seems too overwhelming, so only focus on correcting one sin, planning to fix others later. Then we don't.


Pork Chops and Gravy

6 Pork Chops

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup

1 cup Water

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Heat olive oil in pan, then add pork chops. Cook until browned. Place pork chops in a crock pot and spread the cream of chicken soup over the top. Add the water to the pan that you browned the pork chops in and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour this over the top of the pork chops and soup in the crock pot. Cook in the crock pot for about 3 hours.


I truly do love my husband! We may get on each other's nerves on occasion or have an occasional disagreement, but I can't imagine going through life with anyone else by my side. Our 12th anniversary is on June 18th, but I will be gone on a mission trip at that time, so won't be home to celebrate with Jon. This will be the first anniversary that we've been apart since we got married. Yesterday, Jon surprised me with a dozen red roses (I love fresh flower bouquets!!), so that I could fully enjoy them before leaving on my trip. Thanks Jon! I look forward to spending many more years with you by my side!


Let your dreams be bigger than your fears

and your actions be louder than your words. - Christine Caine


We love you!

Loretta & Jon